I have only recently become interested in history, and only because of its association with stories. This one is great! Clem Akroyd's account of his f...moreI have only recently become interested in history, and only because of its association with stories. This one is great! Clem Akroyd's account of his first love with Francoise Mortimer parallels the development of the cold war through the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Clem's life becomes an exploded diagram in his own "missile crisis" (can't pass up a phallic image.) Beware, heartrending!(less)
I didn't read any of these until I was a senior in high school and they were great even then. Lewis may have been a Christian, but he recognizes other...moreI didn't read any of these until I was a senior in high school and they were great even then. Lewis may have been a Christian, but he recognizes other belief systems; especially in The Last Battle (and who could not be impressed by a giant blue Shiva?). This quality is what makes him such a modern author to me.
Read them if only for the purpose of having done so. Then follow up with The Space Trilogy.(less)
Dracula is not a vampire story! It is the story of six people who grow to love and respect one another through shared horror. Despite its 502 pages, I...moreDracula is not a vampire story! It is the story of six people who grow to love and respect one another through shared horror. Despite its 502 pages, I could barely stand to stop reading! Where others see a horror tale, I saw something completely different. Throughout, ordinary people go to extraordinary effort to treat each other with kindness and respect, and each recognizes the effort and industry of the others.
Stoker used a device that has been extremely popular in recent years: fictional primary source documents to tell a story. By voicing his tale in the journals and documentation of the characters, Stoker creates the same respect and affection his characters feel to one another in the reader. I can't listen to Mina express her love and admiration for the men who are so willing to go to such great lengths to protect her without loving and respecting them myself. Even Lucy, who is more tangential to our protagonists, was an object of admiration and romance and I missed her terribly as Mina and her lovers did. This is more like the opposite of reality TV; people at their best instead of their worst.
I was also struck by other factors that aren't apparent in any of the films. Suddenly, the weird humor in Coppola's Dracula makes sense! Quincy is a legitimate Texan and VanHelsing speaks English as a second language (along with several others). I had never recognized Stoker's recognition of Dracula's courage and fortitude as a regional hero. I laughed at the attempts of working men to con drinks out of gentlemen. Like the first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the climax comes late; page 500 of 502 pages with a note from seven years later, one page, serving as denouement. Maybe Bram Stoker is the opposite of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Like the apology for good manners in a book of etiquette, Tufte describes the goal of visual information as to make verbs visible. Information display...moreLike the apology for good manners in a book of etiquette, Tufte describes the goal of visual information as to make verbs visible. Information display should document, compare, show cause and effect, explain, quantify, contain multivariate data, explore and exercise skepticism. Though the design of the book itself has little specialty, the examples and explanatory text are fascinating. Analyses of data from the producers of the shuttle Challenger to investigatory organizations and the documents presented to congress in regards to the shuttle's failure show the devastating effect of poor information design, and make me feel for the engineers who probably don't sleep well still. An upgrade of Ad Reinhardt's explanation of artistic styles shows the dramatic advantage of effective design. Finally, the most eloquent design, that engraved on the Pioneer spacecrafts that were sent out of the Solar system.
At times dense and forbidding, and at times incomplete, Tufte's explanations of poor design can frustrate. Overall the book seems a little disconnected and mimics my response to manga and anime; I always get the feeling that I don't quite get what is going on, though explanations always prove that what I think is what is happening. Tufte creates the same impression. Nonetheless, much of the book is delightfully informative and engaging, particularly the final section regarding Visual Confections.
Highly detailed and jargonistic language and dense data presentations will challenge all but the most dedicated readers; however, the patient and dogged will create more effective data presentations by following Tufte's advice.(less)
Remember driving along a highway and passing through a road cut where the layers of stone in the hillside rise and descend as you pass. John McPhee be...moreRemember driving along a highway and passing through a road cut where the layers of stone in the hillside rise and descend as you pass. John McPhee began to wonder about these roadcuts and over several years compiled a geologic history of the United States through interviews and feild trips with geology professors from New York to San Francisco. His epic adventure immerses readers in deep deep time, a complex poetry of terminology, and a fascinating array of personal stories. He continually reconnects the geology of the narrative to the reader through frequent references to history and periodic sprinklings of wry humor. And it's not all geology; You'll be amazed by Geologist David Love's family history and thrilled and appalled at the rapid-fire recounts of experiences of the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1988, when slabs of double-decker highway dropped onto commuter vehicles and Candlestick Park shook duriing the world Series.
This is not a strictly layman's book. The language is dense, the concepts unfamiliar, and the few illustrations, diagrams and maps insufficient to clarify much of the text. However, McPhee possesses the sensibilities of both journalist and poet. While the reader may have to soldier through ignornance and inexperience at times, the 660 page journey creates a satisfying understanding of the precepts and questions posed by geologists and geology and a grounding sense of the theory of geological time and the formation of the surface of our planet.
Overall, it makes me feel small and ephemeral.(less)
With no Tarzan or John Carter, Edgar Rice Burroughs explores philosophy and science fiction with pirates, star-crossed lovers, failed experiments and...moreWith no Tarzan or John Carter, Edgar Rice Burroughs explores philosophy and science fiction with pirates, star-crossed lovers, failed experiments and an exotic island filled with natives and their magic. The Monster Men mashes up The Island of Dr. Moreau and Shakespeare’s The Tempest to pair his protagonist, monster-man, with , the daughter of brilliant scientist, . Where Tarzan and John Carter adventures build cyclically with an obvious break between “installments” when read, The Monster Men rollicks along its single story arc with breakneck speed punctuated by unlikely twists and heroic rescues. But, here, Burroughs cheats the philosophy; where The Island of Dr. Moreau explores the limits of humanity, The Monster Men’s hero turns out to be a simple shipwreck, unrelated to the professors heretical experiments. Ultimately I was disappointed by the read, but the Frank Frazetta cover and interior illustration made up for the lame ending. I won’t read it again; but I will read some more Burroughs. (less)